Smith Family support helps Perth woman pursue teaching career

Thaw with Susan Hampton-Mortlock, family partnerships coordinator at The Smith Family. Picture: David Baylis d490390
Thaw with Susan Hampton-Mortlock, family partnerships coordinator at The Smith Family. Picture: David Baylis d490390

SUPPORT from The Smith family since she was in high school has helped a Perth woman pursue her goal to become a teacher.

Thaw was nearing the end of high school when the charity first came into her life, and is now a teaching assistant and studying education at university.

She came to Australia when she was seven years old with her uncle, great-aunt and grandmother.

“We had to leave because there were people killing each other; it was horrible,” Thaw said.

“I didn’t see my mother for four-and-a-half years.

“We stayed in a refugee camp in Thailand, then came to Australia.

“For the first six months it was really hard because of the language barrier, but I learned English pretty quickly – I had friends who only spoke English because they were not from my background.

“We really struggled to find the money for school expenses because both my mum and my grandma were elderly, and it was really hard for them to work at that age.

“I started with the Learning for Life program when I was in Year 11 – the support I had from The Smith Family was so important at that time.

“I remember feeling so relieved that my mum didn’t have to worry about money for school fees and stationary.”

Thaw said program coordinator Susan Hampton-Mortlock was supportive and “like a mother figure” to her.

“Knowing that she wanted me to keep going and keep achieving my goals meant a lot,” she said.

“When I finished school I trained as a teacher’s assistant at Tafe – I wanted to go straight to uni to study teaching, but I had to work because of my family situation.

“I had to support the family financially because money was really tight; I was the only adult who was working age.”

Thanks to a tertiary scholarship from The Smith Family, Thaw is now able to study education at university, using the funds for fees, books and transport.

“I want to become a teacher because I love working with kids and seeing them happy,” she said.

“When I was young, I wasn’t very happy, so I want to be there for other young people now.”

The Officeworks Back-to-School Appeal is aiming to raise enough funds to sponsor more than 1000 disadvantaged school children like Thaw through The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program.

Visit thesmithfamily.com.au to donate or for more information.